Hawaii needs to take action on gas prices
THE incumbent governor and the oil companies have criticized and repealed the gasoline price cap law, claiming it hurt consumers. While the gas cap might have been the victim of the times, it was nevertheless a stab at finding a solution. Like President Bush, Gov. Linda Lingle is hampered by her allegiance to oil companies, and has proposed nothing to alleviate the predatory pricing of gasoline companies. And why is this so? Is it because there is a conflict of interest between her financial support and the consumer interest? It is common knowledge that Lingle has received thousands of dollars from the oil companies for her re-election bid. Does this explain the reluctance of this administration to address the ever-increasing cost of gasoline?
Lingle reportedly has said, "Hawaii could also consider regulating gasoline companies similar to the state's electric companies and inter-island barge services. If gasoline is such an important commodity and people feel it's important, just as we do with electricity, then we should look at considering having the Public Utilities Commission, in fact, regulate how much profit a gas company can make, an oil company can make here in the state" (Star-Bulletin, May 6).
Has the governor proposed such a solution? This administration has failed to propose any legislation to do just that. The administration has been more interested in press releases and public relations than in finding and supporting genuine solutions. Despite the governor's realization that there is a massive problem, there has been no action on the part of the attorney general or the consumer advocate to investigate the high price of gasoline. We no longer can allow these flagrant problems to go unsolved. Regulation by the PUC is imperative, if the pocketbooks of the people are to be defended. Gasoline prices are not subject to the same scrutiny we place on electricity costs or telephone costs, and yet they have the same if not greater importance in our daily lives.
I am more concerned about the pocketbooks of the working people of this state than the pocketbooks of oil executives making thousands if not millions of dollars. When Hurricane Katrina occurred, Hawaii felt the effect because oil companies took advantage of the situation created by the gas cap. Tesoro Petroleum reported record profits during that period. Why should we believe that they wouldn't take advantage of Hawaii consumers now and into the future?
The time has come for this state to regulate the profits of the oil companies and make their pricing policies and decisions transparent and obvious to the everyday person who drives up to the pump. I believe the public has the right to know how much gasoline profit there is in every gallon of gas. I believe the gasoline companies should be willing to disclose their profits especially since there is so little competition. It is time for government to defend the public interest, not the corporate pocketbook of the oil companies.
Randall Y. Iwase is a Democratic candidate for governor.